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Lawmakers Look To End Jail Incarceration Without In-Person Visits


Ten California counties have at least some jails where inmates cannot receive in-person visits from family and friends—a practice state lawmakers want to change. Visitors can chat with inmates by video at the facility, without cost, or remotely for a fee.

"You’re just taking away all of the supports," Michael Cortez testified at a legislative hearing Tuesday about his brother, incarcerated in Solano County. "My brother only gets one hour a day out of his cell, as well. So, add that on top of not being able to see a loved one properly, the way it should be."

Kings County Sheriff David Robinson testified it would cost his department hundreds of thousands of dollars just to escort inmates and accommodate in-person visits.

"I don’t think you’d find a sheriff in the state that says ‘oh we’re absolutely against face-to-face visitation,’ but we have to have the resources to do it," Robinson said.

Governor Jerry Brown vetoed a bill last year that would have banned video-only, and instead directed a state board to consider the issue.

Last week, the Board of State and Community Corrections proposed banning the practice at future jails, but exempting current facilities and four more currently under construction.

The BSCC has a list of counties, which restrict access to in-person visitation:

Counties that currently have no access to in-person visitation:

1. Kings – has used video visitation exclusively since 2006
2. Madera – has used video visitation exclusively since 2012
3. Napa – in-person visitation is temporarily not available; when earthquake repairs are completed there will be access to in-person visitation
4. Tulare – as of January 9, 2017, Tulare has adopted video visitation exclusively in all county facilities
5. Tuolumne – although no in-person visitation is currently available, the county plans to have in-person visitation when its replacement facility is completed

Counties that have  at least one facility in the county with no access to in-person visitation:

1. Imperial
2. Placer
3. San Bernardino
4. San Mateo
5. Solano

Counties with facilities under construction that do not include access to in-person visitation:

1.  Imperial
2.  Kings
3. Orange
4.  Placer
5. Riverside
6. San Benito
7. Tehama
8. Tulare

Ben Bradford

Former State Government Reporter

As the State Government Reporter, Ben covered California politics, policy and the interaction between the two. He previously reported on local and state politics, business, energy, and environment for WFAE in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Read Full Bio 

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